I don’t think any of us could have imagined just how much things would change in the space of week. We went from questioning whether schools should shut in the face of Covid 19 to the dawning realisation that schools were shutting for 12 weeks. The fast pace of change is like nothing we could have predicted and many of us are feeling shell shocked and confused as to what we should be doing and when. In this post, I want to put some thoughts in place about where I am now and also explain what I am planning going forward when it comes to planning education at home.
Tips if you’re planning to unexpectedly home school
I have three children, a second-year university student, a 16-year-old son who has just found out he won’t be sitting GCSE exams and a 10-year-old daughter who I pulled out of school mid-week due to having asthma and other underlying health conditions. As a qualified teacher I am not worried about the teaching side of things. I know what I can do but realise that many won’t feel so secure in home educating their children.
The university seems to be prepared and Chloe has already come home. Her lectures are available online and she has her assignments to do. I have some concerns over paying her accommodation despite not being there, I hope her landlords will at least reduce the fee as it is an all-in price and they aren’t using any amenities like water, heating as they are not living there.
We learnt that GCSE’s were cancelled as we listened to a daily briefing. I expected it but again hearing the words officially was something else. These young people have spent years being told how important their exams are. They have studied for years all culminating in GCSE exams that are now not taking place. The look of shock on my son’s face was heartbreaking, the dawning realisation that they won’t have the opportunity to prove themselves was beyond anything I’ve witnessed in my years of working in Education. Yet it is not only the exams, but they also won’t have the joy of a long summer with friends after months of exams. The prom’s they have imagined and planned for won’t take place. Instead, my son left school without any goodbyes, they didn’t know that it was their last day. They left school at the end of the day and an email followed saying they were not to come in again. No shirt signing, no selfies and no opportunity to say goodbye to the teachers that have taught them for the past five years. The hashtag #classof2020 has been really hard to read as parents and students share their thoughts.
Erin is in year 5 and is also preparing for grammar entrance exams. This means that I can focus on the preparation for that and thankfully I already had a number of workbooks to work through with her. We are doing a mix of verbal, non-verbal reasoning, maths and comprehension. I am also compiling resources that we can use. I have been heartened to see how much is already available online including Twinkl, Scratch, Topmarks and more.
Tips for Managing a Childs Education at Home
Don’t try to do everything all the time
Schools know that parents don’t all have the knowledge, skills and mindset to teach – they know that this has been thrust upon us and we are not prepared. However, we all have skills and talents that we can share with our children, teach your children what you are good at and get creative. If you play an instrument, you’ve got time to teach this. If you are good at drawing spend time doing that. Bake together, learn about places in the world you have travelled too and plan to visit in the future.
Be relaxed over timings
If you enjoy a lie in start ‘school’ later in the day. We are doing academic work in the mornings and then using the afternoons for fun in the garden, baking and crafting.
I am giving Erin a list of tasks and letting her work through them at her own pace. She is choosing which activities to do to give her some semblance of choice which encourages her to do some work. I don’t want to be getting into a debate or standoff with her over school work as that will add unnecessary stress for all of us.
Understand that learning takes place in many guises.
Dylan is struggling to find any purpose to his work because his exams have been cancelled. Instead, I have got him preparing and helping Erin with her Maths. I think it is really hard for him as he has no direction. I am looking at him learning a new skill and doing some prep for A Levels.
Play, crafting and doing things is also really important. Don’t make this time death by worksheets as everyone will quickly get bored of that approach.
For the topics or subjects, you are less confident on there will be support available. Schools will be doing their bit and of course, MyTutor is still a solution to supporting kids at home. MyTutor will be especially useful for teenagers who have started GCSE courses and A Level students or those who want to continue learning their favourite subjects with subject specialists at home. I have a special referral code EMMA&3 which will give you £10 off their first lesson. This will help eliminate pressure that parents may feel for teaching older students and trying to manage their education at home.
Teenagers Education and Mental Health During this Time
Teenagers are naturally on the cusp of independence and therefore they are going to especially find this time challenging as they have their freedom curbed. I have been thinking about how I can help my teens deal with this. My teens did a home workout this morning including weights and body weights which is good for their mental and physical health and I encourage motivational podcasts too.
I have stocked up on board games and will be encouraging them to do things as a family. Dylan has decided to invest his time in becoming a darts player! It will keep his mental maths up at least whilst doing education at home.
You can watch my Instagram stories on www.instagram.com/emmaand3 for inspiration and sharing what we are doing.